Women's tennis team has potential to improve

The North Carolina women’s tennis team is ranked No. 8 in the nation.

But with strong performances on the court as well as inside the coaches’ office, that number could start to look even better.

A win against No. 16 Michigan, as well as a 2013 recruiting class ranked No. 1 in the nation, serves as strong proof of that.

UNC recruits Jamie Loeb and Hayley Carter are ranked No. 4 and No. 12, respectively, by Tennis Recruiting Network.

When asked how he was able to draw such talented players to Chapel Hill, coach Brian Kalbas was as humble as ever.

“It starts with a great assistant that pounds the pavement and gets letters out for us,” said Kalbas, with assistant coach Sara Anundsen chuckling behind him.

He also emphasized the program’s ability to develop players.

“We were always just kind of a good program as far as developing players, and I think the key thing is finding the right players who want to maximize their potential in college,” Kalbas said.

Senior Gina Suarez-Malaguti, ranked No. 11 in the nation, is a great example of how good the program is at getting the most out of its players.

“It’s funny — I actually almost signed with Michigan,” Suarez-Malaguti said. “I never really contacted Brian (Kalbas) because I thought I wouldn’t be good enough to play for them.”

She couldn’t have been more wrong.

Suarez-Malaguti led her team to a 5-2 win against Michigan on Sunday by putting in impressive performances in singles, as well as a dramatic win in doubles alongside Zoe De Bruycker.

Freshman Ashley Dai, part of a doubles team ranked No.8 in the nation, has also benefited from coming to North Carolina.

“It was the first place I ever visited,” Dai said. “Everyone was just so attentive on my visit … I met the girls and saw how much of a family they were it really left an impact on me. When I visited other schools nothing really compared.

“It has been a great first year so far, and I’m just excited to see where we can go.”

With players like Suarez-Malaguti leading the team, as well as top recruits coming in every year, UNC has the potential to continually improve. And the better the team does, the easier recruiting becomes for Kalbas.

“In 2010, we got to be No. 1 in the nation and got to the semis in the NCAA,” Kalbas said. “That kind of put us on a different level — top players looked at us differently, they could go to a top program and a developmental program as well.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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